Sunday, September 26, 2010

Getting It Together

So, I had my trainer out Friday. I decided to give Spider Saturday off, mostly because I felt like I'd been hit by a truck. We resumed work today. There were three very important things my trainer pointed out to me. 1) I wasn't suppling the front end of the horse enough. 2) My grabby hands were blocking the horse. 3) I was riding with my reins waaaaay too long. These three things are all related.

My grabby, blocking hands were not allowing my horse to be forward. So, I was letting my reins out to try to get the impulsion I needed. Unfortunately, when I let my reins out I was allowing the horse to fall on his forehand. Then he was rushing and getting strung out. My grabby, blocking hands were also too rigid to allow my horse to supple his neck properly, which was also preventing him from ever really coming on to the bit. Which led to me letting my reins get long, which led to him falling on his forehand, etc., etc., etc.

On the bright side, the work I have been doing to get Spider to reach under with his hind legs has been a good thing. I've been asking for leg yields and turns on the forehand, shoulder in and haunches in to get him reaching under himself with his hind legs. Even though I have been allowing him to escape out the front door with my loose reins and generally crappy riding, I did manage to build up some muscle back there. So, when I asked him to come together, he did so nearly effortlessly. If that isn't proof of the benefit of riding a horse from back to front, I don't know what is!

So today, in addition to leg yield, and shoulder in and haunches in I suppled his neck. I flexed his neck into the circle, I flexed his neck out of the circle. I followed the movement of his head and neck with my hands. I thought of that old analogy, that it should feel like there are no reins. It should feel like your hands are directly connected to the horse's mouth. In the end, it felt like the entire horse was out in front of me. It felt like I was literally sitting on his haunches. What a wonderful feeling.

He did trip once when I rode him today. And I did not back off. I did not second guess myself, I did not assume unsoundness. Instead, I promised him that I would never let it happen again. I am responsible for this living creature, this animal who only exists for my pleasure, and I will do everything in my power to make sure he never takes another bad step again.


  1. Good job, and a nice visualization of how the reins and bit should work. I always like to think too of the horse "stepping into the bit" as he strides forward.

    Spider is lucky to have you. You've made a big promise to him and I am sure you will do everything you can to keep it. Gotta love it!

  2. Interesting, can Spider spin? It is the main exercise for the shoulders in a Western horse.
    I practise the exercise to teach spinning to young horses, then I will ask her to pivot on her inside hind. A few step at the time, and sow. NOT the original 4 to 8 spins quite fast.
    With Teena, I do figure of 8, one circle is with inside bend, the other circle is counter-bend.

  3. You have a trainer? How cool. I always just assumed you were super-wonder-rider who didn't need a trainer. Don't know why... lol. Good to know everyone needs input once in a while.

    Sounds like an excellent lesson.

  4. You are too hard on yourself in the language you use. You are doing a great job and needed a fresh set of eyes to identify the needed adjustment, which you are able to do. And your horse is able to do, thanks to you. Pretty good if you ask me.
    Interesting re the tripping and the fix. Makes sense.


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